Part Two

What type of Blog should I start?

Before starting a new blog it helps to define what your goals are for it as that will guide you in every aspect of its development. Somebody who wants to build a blog to promote an existing business will do things differently than somebody who is blogging for a political cause for example. Whether you have already got a blog or are about to start one, take a moment to think about the following factors and as you work your way through these steps have your answers in mind.

Target Audience
Think about who your target audience is for your blog. Are they male / female? What is their income? Are they married? Have children? Are they tech-savvy? A young tech-savvy male is far more likely to Digg your posts than a mom who doesn’t even know what RSS is for instance. Your audience will respond differently to monetization also. The same tech-savvy male is much less likely to click an ad than the mom. Is your target audience somebody who is likely to carefully read through your posts in detail trying to glean as much information as possible (older crowd for instance) or are they a “give-it-to-me-quick” kind of person? These factors will affect your content and writing style. The former may respond well to in-depth how-to posts whereas the latter will likely prefer quick, easily-scannable lists. If any of the things I’ve mentioned here don’t make sense to you, don’t worry as we will get to those in future posts! We’re just trying to give you examples so that as you progress through these posts you’ll better understand what aspects will be more applicable to your particular blog.

Monetization
From the outset you should try to have a clear idea of how you want to monetize your blog. For example, if you are planning on selling private advertising then you’ll need to make sure that your blog theme is designed to support the sizes and shapes of ads that you want to run. If you are promoting something that is already in existence such as your services, or an existing business then you will want to make sure that you prominently work your promotional content into your blog seamlessly.

For example, look at the top of this page. There is a large header section split into two parts and each one of those heavily promotes something that we are a licensed reseller for (or something we produced). Now over to the right in the sidebar you’ll see a handful of small banner ads for select vendors and products we promote or use ourselves.  As you can see, these are not as prominent as the products in the header section but they fit nicely.

Other monetization options such as AdSense are usually easier to slot into just about any theme as there are many shapes and sizes of ads that you can use but then you need to ask yourself the question, do I place ads straight away or should I incorporate them later?

The answer is fairly simple… If you are blogging in order to earn an income then incorporate some ads on your blog straight away. The details don’t matter at first as you’ll have no traffic anyway but there is a good reason for doing it up-front: As you begin to build your blog readership they will come to expect that you are blogging for money and expect to see your ads. If you suddenly introduce them some time later some of your readers will complain, accuse you of being a sellout and so on!

Another benefit to placing ads straight away is that the audience that you build will often contain your future advertisers but they won’t think to advertise with you if you’re not in the habit of having ads on your blog. This goes part and parcel with a reseller strategy. Some of the ‘upper crust’ advertisers will need to approve you as a reseller prior to allowing you to place ads for their product or service. It’s a good idea to have some ads already in place when they check out your page to see if it is worthy.

Notice how we throw in the occasional ad now and then to get the word out?

Branding
In future posts we will be talking quite a lot about social media which is one of the ways in which I have brought in hundreds of people to my blog and established myself in the niche. One very important thing about branding is that it is very difficult to change later on. You can’t go from running a gardening blog to a new car review blog.

Right from the start think about what image you are trying to project. Are you promoting yourself like we are in our blog or are you promoting your blog name as a brand within itself (think Lifehacker, TechCrunch, BoingBoing)? If you are promoting yourself then think about graphics – do you have a standard avatar for yourself that you can use? Make sure you do because when you get social media right that avatar gets everywhere!

Changing Direction?
We have had quite a few blogs over the years. If you have an already established blog think about where it stands currently on the points mentioned above. What kind of audience does it currently attract? Is that the audience you want? What monetization are you using and are you happy with it? Is your audience responding well to it? Finally, what image are you projecting, if any?

If you need to change anything that is ok, just think about the direction in which you would like to take your blog and bear that in mind as you work through the rest of these lessons.

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